Don't Remove Graffiti Before Taking Photographs of It
Before you remove or cover up graffiti at your community, take color photographs of it. Your first instinct will naturally be to remove graffiti immediately so that it doesn't send the message that your community is in decline or give the vandals the recognition they want. But graffiti is a crime. And the police can use color photographs of graffiti to identify, track, and prosecute the graffiti artists responsible.
Many police departments—especially those in large cities such as New York and Chicago—have special units or departments dedicated to graffiti-related crime. In many cases, these special units or departments coordinate their graffiti-fighting efforts with similar units in other agencies, such as transit authorities or housing authorities. These agencies often keep detailed records, including color photographs, of each graffiti artist's “tags” (that is, the graffiti artist's stylized signature) and “throw-ups” (that is, a larger version of the graffiti artist's signature that's usually multicolored and in bubble letters). Because each graffiti artist's work is distinctive, color photographs can be valuable pieces of evidence. Also, it's a good idea to record the location of the graffiti, and the date and time each photograph is taken.